Monday, March 26, 2012


I   imagine every gardener has favorites in his/her collection, in mine there are about 20.  If I had to get rid of the rest those would remain.  . Plumerias, in the top five. 

It is hard to determine specifics. After all, they spend quite a lot of time bare. If you think the scaffolding of every tree has its own beauty, that is one reason.  The bark,  a smooth grey/green.

Plumerias are peculiar.  Unlike elms and oaks the crown is not regular. It seems  that every individual is different from the next.   Sometimes they bloom with the leaves on, or not. It is noticeable when you walk from one side of the town to the other.

The fragrance of the whites is the most intense, yellow is peach like,  pink is subtle. In different sites,  some  Plumerias are in full bloom, with just leaves or bare.  Whites dominate the scenery.  

In the San Juan metro zone,  their availability and popularity has increased  in the last five years.  Yet, I am certain too many people  are not fond of trees looking like it is winter in Vermont, during our cool/wet season.

Resistant to diseases, drought, heat, saline breeze and sandy soils,  the foliage is almost always in  company of rust or  those handsome black/green, glutton caterpillars dropping by twice a year, munching non stop until falling dormant to become huge moths.

My white was collected in Ashford avenue in Condado. There were lots of branches thrown on the sidewalk.  A couple of weeks later, the yellow was kidnapped from El Hamburguer, a fast greasy food joint no longer with us, some blocks down.

The pink was a birthday present in a big pot. This variety is unique.  It is the  only one I have ever seen with seed pods. Two off  springs have survived. One is in a pot, one is not.

The yellow/pink flowered Plumeria has a Catholic background. I confiscated  a couple of stems from the overgrown branches on top of the concrete fence surrounding the San Juan Archbishop's office, a few steps from the Baldorioty de Castro avenue. 

Let the record show there is one variety I consider ugly. Plumeria pudica. Their whites flowers are the most handsome, but this tree grows straight, not of my liking. For that reason there is none in the collection.

If I had much more room I would have planted them differently. There are two in pots in the north, one in  the east, the rest live happily grounded in  the south garden. 

There is an endemic one from Puerto Rico.  I tried to propagate a cut stem from Guanica City, my kind of town, thirty inches of rain a year, without luck.  The difference between this kind and the others is in the narrow leaves and thinner trunk/branches.

That is that. If you live in dry, hot, with very little rain climate, I would recommend it. 

That is that


  1. Good morning, Antigonum cajan; I enjoyed how you obtained your favourites! My first encounter with Plumeria, or the more folksy name, quite sweet, Frangipane, was back in 1974 at the Post office at Grafton in Northern NSW. There were these very old squat trees, bedecked with the most wonderful scented flowers. A very soft cream with a yellow center, but the scent one never forgets. I also grow the "Bishops" FP pink and yellow, the soft cream which is my all time favourite, and a few others. In Cairns one sees a lot of the big snow white ones, which I think are very beautiful too. I adore the trees in winter with their naked arms stretching towards the blue and waiting for leaves and flowers to come back. I think I have to do a post about them!!

  2. Glad you enjoy and admire these. In Puerto Rico they were never were very popular, even considering their requirements to grow and easy maintenance.

    Thanks for the feedback..

  3. Nice to see plumerias.....outside! Guanica City sounds like it is drier, especially with tropical temperatures, though not as dry as the leeward sides of Maui or Oahu in HI.

  4. I fell in love with Guanica moons ago, 3 decades approximately. In those days I did not mind the six hours round trip from Caguas. Besides the 'desert' quality of the climate and endemic vegetation, the solitude and dry quietness is a treasure like no other.

    People over here fat, lazy and sedentary, have little tolerance for such temperatures and topography.

    That is why one only reads about 'EL Yunque'. A noisy, over flowing crowds, Yellowstone like local rainforest, about 45 minutes from our residence, and never visited.

    Give me room and silence or give me a figure of speech...

    Almost forgot. Guaicum officinale, Merremia aegyptia and a few others were collected in Guanica.

    Thanks for the feedback.


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